Monday, June 4, was a momentous day for hundreds of schoolchildren in Hancock and Hawkins counties, Tennessee – it was the first day of summer vacation that the Lunch Box bus came to their tiny communities bringing them a free, healthy and filling lunch.
Americans Helping Americans® is proud to be a national organization helping our partner there, Of One Accord, to make such a big difference for hungry children in the rural, northeast Appalachian region of the state.
Of One Accord Executive Director Rev. Sheldon Livesay noted at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the 2018 kickoff of the Lunch Box bus program which is now in its 13th year that they are on track to serve the 100,000th meal this summer.
In a video prepared for the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Rev. Livesay explained why the program is so necessary for the children they serve.
In large cities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program is able to serve hundreds of children living within a few blocks of a feeding site, such as a school, church or community center.
“That’s not the case here in rural Appalachia,” he said.
Since the children can’t get to the meals, the meals are brought to the children on four Lunch Box buses which will operate for more than 40 weekdays this summer.
The buses traverse the rural two-lane roadways through the mountains to remote mobile home parks, community centers and low-income communities where between 15 to 25 kids and youth hop on, enjoy lunch with their siblings, friends, and neighbors, and hop off full and ready for an afternoon of fun with no worries about when they’re going to get their next meal.
“It takes several different stops to begin capturing those numbers of children and making it possible for everybody who needs help to get help,” he said.
While Of One Accord is reimbursed for the cost of the food itself by the USDA, it is up to Rev. Livesay to come up with the roughly $30,000 cost to operate the program which includes, bus fuel and maintenance, insurance, driver’s salaries and other miscellaneous expenses.
And thanks to our supporters we are able to help with a substantial portion of those costs.
“Americans Helping Americans® is a national organization that is supporting us this year,” stated Rev. Livesay in the video kicking off the 2018 season. “They’re doing a fundraiser for us through the month, and we certainly want to thank you, Americans Helping Americans®.
“God bless each and everyone one of you.”